'Couch potato' rowing chair energises tech fair

Mar 05, 2013
Visitors leave the world's biggest high-tech fair, the CeBIT, in Hanover March 5, 2009. At the CeBIT, the world's top high-tech fair, a humble-looking, black chair is actually part-nurse, part-fitness coach designed for increasing the health of hoards of elderly in Germany and across the developed world.

It looks like an ordinary black, comfy chair, perfect for a relaxing hour or two in front of the television.

But things are rarely as they seem at the , the world's top high-tech fair, and this humble-looking chair is part-nurse, part-fitness coach designed for the increasing hoards of elderly in Germany and across the developed world.

Highly in the chair register the owner's weight, blood pressure, and posture and builds a database of vital signs over a period of time.

And if the chair notices a few extra pounds, it flips into fitness coach mode and suggests a series of exercises.

The comfy arm-rests convert into a fully functioning rowing machine and the user "rows" down a river displayed on a big screen.

"Even in this mode, the sensors record all the vital signs and the health assistant notes if the person is not performing the exercises properly," said Sven Feilner from the Fraunhofer Institute as he put himself through his paces.

Users can link up with other users and "race" against each other or simply follow a tailor-made fitness programme, monitored closely by the chair.

The chair exercises the mind as well, with a "Simon Says"-type memory game in which the user shifts his or her weight in the chair in response to a .

"We're trying to make people more active, especially given our ," explained project leader Matthias Struck.

Struck's team is working on bringing the unveiled at the CeBIT onto the market in "one, maybe two years," he said. The chairs could be particularly useful in old peoples' homes, he suggested.

One thing that might make you sit up straight: the price.

"Already without the technology, these chairs aren't particularly cheap," said Struck. "I would estimate 2,000-3,000 euros ($2,600-3,900) and then you're probably looking at the same again for all the sensors."

The CeBIT, self-styled Davos of the high-tech world in the northern German city of Hanover, runs until March 9 and has attracted some 4,100 exhibitors from around 70 countries.

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The armchair as a fitness trainer

Feb 04, 2013

Each of us would like to pursue our personal hobbies and interests into old age. However, this depends on us staying fit and healthy. Researchers are now presenting an armchair that brings the gym right into ...

World's top tech fair pins hopes on Asia, social media

Mar 03, 2013

The world's biggest high-tech fair, the CeBIT, kicks off Tuesday, pinning its hopes on growing tech regions Asia and Africa and the hot topic of social media to beat competition from other high-profile fairs.

CeBIT 2011: Electronic Fitness Trainer

Feb 08, 2011

Only people who get a lot of exercise and eat a healthy diet stay fit even in old age. This is easier said than done. Researchers have developed a Fitness Assistant that not only motivates but also demonstrates ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.